Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal

Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal

By The Situation Room - December 21, 2012

BLITZER: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called today's NRA statement, in his words, "sadly, shamefully inadequate." Senator Blumenthal is joining us now from Capitol Hill.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Let me get your reaction to what Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association said today, your former attorney general of your home state of Connecticut.

He says there should be armed police guards in every school in the country to protect our kids. Is that a good idea?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Not a good idea if they are volunteers, as he suggests, because he wants to save money by avoiding payment for them. The watchdog dads, not a good idea.

But better school security, certainly a very important goal.

And it ought to be part of a comprehensive, serious, substantial set of ideas that have the goal of real change, taking the assault weapons off the streets, stopping sales of them, as well as the high- capacity magazines, better background checks, more of them, covering the 40 percent that right now are completely uncovered in the gun show loophole. And, of course, mental health initiatives.

There are a set ideas, no single one of them is going to accomplish this goal. But better school security can be part of an overall program, not the vigilante approach that seems to be suggested by the NRA today.

BLITZER: He did suggest that it would be appropriate for Congress to spend some more money, to appropriate funds to beef up security at schools all across the country. I assume you'd be ready to vote in favor of that kind of legislation?

BLUMENTHAL: Very much so. Better school security that comes from professionals who are trained and equipped, have the expertise and the ability to stop these kind of attacks.

But, remember, schools have multiple entrances and exits, multiple ways for killers to blast their way into schools, as happened in Newtown.

And the high-velocity magazines that have 30 rounds apiece and perhaps multiple use of them will enable a killer to possibly overwhelm even the best security guard, even the best armored and armed. So we need to think beyond school security and launch a program that really accomplishes effective change. And I'm afraid that the NRA has proved that it's not a credible or a constructive partner in this debate, by only focusing on this one solution and saying it is the only acceptable solution.

BOLDUAN: And, Senator, when the president visited Newtown, Connecticut, he was really talking about the need for stronger gun control measures.

Have you spoken with him personally since his visit to Connecticut about his gun control measures? What have you told him?

BLUMENTHAL: I've spoken to the vice president about the potential set of proposals and indicated my strong support for the proactive and aggressive stance that the president's taken. I talked to the president before, just before, as he arrived at the high school in Newtown. And I think the president's very determined.

But we should be very clear. It will take a sustained effort and it will take all of America standing up and speaking out as they have done in the past week, and the kind of letters and calls that I received just within the last few hours, "The NRA does not speak for us. I'm an NRA member. I'm a hunter. The NRA is not speaking for me." That kind of really sustained effort has to be part of it.

And, again, I think the NRA in its present approach is making its largely irrelevant.

BOLDUAN: Senator, let me ask you about the investigation. What are you hearing the latest is from the Connecticut State Police in terms of their investigation, what more they're learning about Adam Lanza and possibly why he went about this horrific, horrific tragedy?

BLUMENTHAL: This investigation is making progress. I think that's the most -- or the best I can say right now because I've been briefed on it. But I don't think I can say much more at this point.

We may never have a fully adequate or complete explanation of what the motives were, what went wrong in Adam Lanza's head that resulted in such an inhumane, brutal, absolutely horrific kind of criminal act.

But I think the state is finishing this period of mourning and very determined that we will honor the memory of these beautiful children and the very heroic professionals who sought to stop the killing by placing themselves in between the killer and their children, by moving forward and making America safer.

BLITZER: So many of our viewers here in the United States and around the world, Senator, would like to do something to help your constituents in Newtown, Connecticut. Is there anything specific you would recommend that they do? What do the folks there really need?

BLUMENTHAL: They need support in thoughts and letters, prayers. But also there are donations that can be made to community organizations and charities.

I'm pleased to say that I've called for an end to the transaction fees and processing charges that are often applied or imposed in connection with donations to, for example, the United Way, the Newtown Savings Bank that are planning to provide supportive work for the families and, of course, cover some of the funeral expenses, I understand.

But, really, the thoughts and support for measures that will accomplish real change, I think, is the -- is one good way to honor the memory of these innocent victims and the more support we receive, the more congressmen hear from their constituents, the stronger we will be in accomplishing these goals.

BLITZER: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Our heart, of course, goes to out everyone in Connecticut; so many people have suffered. We appreciate your joining us.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. 

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